High hopes for an end to city’s bins dis­pute Coun­cil leader thinks set­tle­ment can be found to avoid costly court case

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Neil Elkes Po­lit­i­cal Correspondent

BIRM­ING­HAM’S lon­grun­ning bins dis­pute could be near­ing a res­o­lu­tion ahead of a crunch court date at the end of this month.

Labour City Coun­cil leader Ian Ward re­vealed he has high hopes that a deal can be struck with the union Unite be­fore the par­ties meet in the High Court on Novem­ber 27.

Bin­men have been in dis­pute with the city coun­cil since the start of the sum­mer – in­clud­ing three months of strike ac­tion which saw moun­tains of rub­bish piled high on the streets.

The key area of the dis­pute is the down­grad­ing of jobs, called lead­ing hands, which mean 113 staff face re­dun­dancy, re-as­sign­ment to an­other de­part­ment or a pay cut of up to £5,000 a year.

For­mer coun­cil leader John Clancy was forced to re­sign over his role in an aborted deal with the union.

The strike was only sus­pended in Septem­ber when Unite won the right to chal­lenge the coun­cil in court.

An ap­pear­ance in the High Court could be em­bar­rass­ing and costly for both the union as are aired.

Speak­ing to a back­bench coun­cil scru­tiny com­mit­tee Coun­cil­lor Ward said: “The bins dis­pute was not the great­est mo­ment in the his­tory of this city.

“It is the one and only ser­vice de­liv­ered to all 400,000 house­holds in Birm­ing­ham and it’s very im­por­tant for that rea­son.

“It is also im­por­tant be­cause when you look at any res­i­dents sur­veys the most im­por­tant is­sue for res­i­dents is clean streets and the refuse col­lec­tion ser­vice. We are now in very mean­ing­ful talks with the Unite union and they will be go­ing for­ward.

“I am very much hop­ing that we will avoid hav­ing to go back to court at the end of this month through reach­ing a set­tle­ment with the trade unions.”

He also sug­gested his pre­de­ces­sor had paid the price for fail­ing to lis­ten to the ad­vice of pro­fes­sional coun­cil of­fi­cers in strik­ing his deal with the union.

“That’s what went wrong back in the sum­mer, and that’s some­thing I’m keen to avoid,” he said.

He stressed that politi­cians can choose not to fol­low of­fi­cer ad­vice as long as they lis­ten and con­sider it care­fully. coun­cil and the bit­ter griev­ances

> The bin strike rally in Birm­ing­ham in Septem­ber

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